By Laura Lennie, News Staff
A makeover is on deck for Stoney Creek Optimist Little League.
New scoreboards and bleachers will be installed at Stoney Creek Optimist Little League park this season. All of the fences also will be repaired, painted and capped off with yellow safety tops.
The updates round out infield and outfield work that have already been done for the league. New clay and sod were put in at the park last fall.
The upgrades were made possible through a $33,750 grant from Heritage Green Community Trust.
The league applied for the grant last year.
“It’s all about providing the best possible experience for kids,” said president Jason Russell, adding he worked on the application for about two years. “I was ecstatic to see that we actually got some help to make the park better for the kids.”
Russell said two new scoreboards will be installed at the park.
The bigger of the two will replace the current scoreboard located just outside the main diamond. The scoreboard was put in for the Canadian Little League championships in 1990.
The other scoreboard will be a new addition to the back diamond.
“They are more modern, remote-control operated and use LED lighting, as opposed to the old-school light bulbs,” Russell said. “The big scoreboard’s going to have pitch count. It also will have a time clock on it.”
Russell said two new sets of bleachers will be put in at the back diamond.
The back diamond also will be completely fenced in.
The league received the money from the trust last fall. A financial contribution also was made by the Stoney Creek Optimist Club.
New clay and sod were installed at the park soon after.
Russell said the league had to wait to order the new scoreboards.
“Most of the scoreboard companies don’t really do much with baseball over the fall because they’re quite busy doing stuff for basketball and hockey. Once we got that all sorted out in January, we ordered them from a company (Riddell) in the U.S.,” he said. “We had hoped to unveil them during our opening day ceremony on May 31, but they were held up in shipping from the states. They are, hopefully, going to arrive before the end of the month.”
Russell said the league also is waiting for the new bleachers to be delivered by the city.
The rest of the work will be completed soon, he said.
“The plan is to try and have everything done by the end of this month,” Russell said.
The Heritage Green Community Trust provides support in the form of grants to community, educational or charitable organizations of upper Stoney Creek.
It distributes grants to qualifying recipients or organizations who clearly provide demonstrable benefits to residents.
“The little league, while it’s not in our catchment, it is unique to Stoney Creek and a lot of the players come from the area that is in our community,” said trust representative Kathy Lacasse, adding about 75 per cent of the participants come from upper Stoney Creek. “If any of the kids in Stoney Creek want to play little league baseball that’s where they go.”
Lacasse said the league also brings community members together.
“The kids get so much enjoyment out of it and the parents can sit and talk to their friends, neighbours or other people that they see, so it really does help foster a sense of community,” she said. “It’s giving back to the community, so the community can get stronger, build upon itself and that’s what organizations like this do. The little league group is fantastic.”
The league offers a number of baseball programs for kids of all ages.
Games are played at Stoney Creek Optimist Little League park, Cherry Heights Park and in Binbrook.
Russell said the league is grateful to the trust for its contribution.
“Basically, little league runs on a shoestring budget. We don’t have an excess of money,” he said. “We try to keep our prices down, so that all kids can play. Contributions like this help us keep up and make it a better and more enjoyable experience for the players, parents and everyone who comes out to a game.”